New Internationalist

Action And Worth Reading On… The Food Industry

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issue 135

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THE FOOD INDUSTRY [image, unknown] Action and worth reading...

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BUN FIGHTS
A round up of food action groups around the World

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Australian Consumers’ Association

28 Queen Street
Chippensale NSW 2008
Australia

Activities: Persuading government to promote and enforce 1 979 National Dietary Guidelines calling for decreased consumption of fat sugar, salt and alcohol. Trying, through its magazine Choice arid other publications, to increase public awareness on issues like food labelling, advertising, nutrition.

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Bureau European Des
Unions Des
Consommateurs

Rue Royale 29. Boite 3,
8-1000 Brussels
Belgium

Activities: As the umbrella organisation for consumers organisations in EEC, BEUC is active in all areas of food safety and is currently studying use and effects of irradiation as a means of preserving food.

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Oxfam/Pesticides Action
Network

274 Banbury Road
Oxford 0X2 7DZ
United Kingdom

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Friends of the Earth

377 City Road
London ECi
United Kingdom

Activities: Oxfam and FOE are working together in the UK to publicise dangers of pesticides. FOE campaigns for tighter controls on pesticide use arid residues in food. But tighter controls could lead to increased overseas marketing. So the newly-formed UK Pesticides Action Network (PAN) is trying to stop restricted or banned chemicals being dumped in the Third VVorId. PAN, set tip in 1 982, now works with 300 organasations in 49 countries.

 

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Pollution Probe

12 Madison Avenue
Toronto. Ontario
Canada

Activites: Environmental issues like air and water pollution, better land use policies, stricter controls on toxic chemicals. Specific work on additives and food labelling includes two books: Additives Alert (see box) and Invisible Additives (on pesticide residues and contamination of food from packaging etc.)

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Consumers’ Association of Penang

87 Cantonment Road
Penang
Malaysia

Activities: Investigating then sounding the alarm when it discovers faulty goods or dangerous substances in food arid drink. CAP sought ban on the food dye amaranth after US and USSR banned it for its links with cancer and miscarriages. Qther campaigns include radio programmes, press conferences, the newspaper Uwsan Konsumner, lobbying of the government.

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Center for Science in the Public Interest

1755 S Street NW
Washington DC 20009
USA

Activities: Health and nutrition issues, seeking to strengthen US laws regulating use of food additives and ingredients. lookJng at links between fat, salt arid sugar and cancer and circulatory disease.

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Consumers’ Union

1146 19th Street NW
Washington DC 20036
USA

Activities: CU, the largest US consumers organ isation, produced The Food Additive Book in 1 982, which lists main food additives used in US, giving safety ratings for brand-named foods.

Worth reading on... THE FOOD INDUSTRY

Transnational corporations in food and beverage processing, available from the United Nations Centre on Trausnational Corporations in New York. A weighty tome, packed with facts about the top 280 food manufacturers in the world, but totally devoid of analysis. However there is more than enough information there for you to make up your own mind.

Unilever’s world, an ‘anti report’frorn Counter Info rmation Services, copies available from them at 9 Poland Street, London Wi. A fascinating profile of the biggest food manufacturer of them all, with reports from all over the world. Look out for an updated version due to be published next year.

Food first by Frances Moore Lappe and Joseph Collins, Abacus 1982. This book appears often in Also worth reading... If you haven’t read it yet — do, please. It’s a classic.

Food and profit a short series of bouncy booklets describing how the food industry’s quest tbr profit undermines our health, produced by the British Society for Social Responsibility in Science’s Politics oJHealth group — now unfortunately out of print and mentioned here really to draw your attention again to BSSRS itself — an active group of academics and consumers who welcome new members. Contact them at 9 Poland Street, London Wi.

The composition of foods published by HMSO, now in its fourth edition by A A Paul and D A TSoudzgate. Only readily available in the UK. It’s expensive (U 8) but invaluable if you are serious about taking control of what you eat, telling you the constituents of a near exhaustive list of 3,873 food products.

The famine business by Co liii Tudge, Penguin 1979. An entertaining and provocative book arguing for ‘rational agricultures to replace our present unfair, unhealthy and wasteful world food system.

A woman’s conflict: The special relationship between women and food, edited by Jane Rachel Kaplan, Prentice Hall 1980. A series of readings doing exactly what the title suggests — a must for us oppressed cooks and summers.

Invisible additives: Environmental contaminants in our food by Linda R Pyrn, Doubleday 1981. A comprehensive account of the way our food is adulterated by pollution, pesticides and hormones: additives that don’t appear on any food label.


Additive alert...
Food additives are usually tested by being given in high doses to animals with short life spans, like rats and mice. Only a small proportion have been adequately tested under the conditions in which they are actually consumed by humans in low doses over a long period. So it makes sense to be suspicious — especially of the additives listed.

This list was produced in Canada, so the products listed as containing a suspect additive in Canada mar not contain dial additive in, say, Australia. So check with your national food standards authority or consumers’ orga nisa lion. Information from Additive Alert by Linda Ro.

Pim, Pollution Probe, Canada. European 'E' numbers and US dye numbers are given where appropriate. n/l refers to substances not listed as numbers because they are not yet specifically controlled by EEC regulations.

COLOURS

Amaranth (US red dye No. 2 E123)
Permitted in: jams; Jeli-O powder, Aylmer Fruit Cocktail; Ribena; ketchup; glacé cherries; cake decorations
Effects: tumour production; allergic and respiratory reactions; birth defects

Erythrosine (FY27)
Permitted in: as above
Effects: allergic and respiratory reactions; interference with iodine metabolism

Indigotine (ff132)
Permitted in: as above
Effects: increased sensitivity to viral diseases

Sunset yellow FCF (ff110)
Permitted in: lemon curd; Sainsbury’s Fresh Cream Fruit Trifle
Effects: allergic reactions

Tartrazine (US yellow dye no.5, ff102)
Permitted in: Tango Orange Drinic, Kellogg’s Maple Flavour Syrup
Effects: allergic reactions; asthma

Brilliant blue FCF (US blue dye no. 1, n/l*)
Permitted in: blue food colouring
Effects: tumour production; allergic reactions

Fast green FCF (n/l*)
Permitted in: jellies; cake decorations
Effects: allergic reactions; tumour production

Citrus red no. 2 (n/l*)
Permitted in: used to colour orange skins
Effects: week cancer-causing agent

Ponceau SX (US red dye no. 4, E124)
Permitted in: fruit peel and maraschino cherries
Effects
: damage to urinary system; banned in US

Carbon black (ff153)
Permitted in: jams and jellies; concentrated fruit juice; dried egg; ice cream; bread; buuer vegetable fats and oils; margarine; cheese; icing sugar; pickles; flavoured milk; processed meat and fish
Effects: tumour production; not permitted in US

Titanium dioxide (FY71)
Permitted in: as above
Effects: unclear, although this colour has been banned in the countries of the EEC

Cochineal (E124)
Permitted in: as above
Effects: birth defects

Caramel (E150)
Permitted in: Coca Cola; brown bread; flavoured milK butter; concentrated fruit juice; ice cream; sherbet; jams and jellies; pickles and relishes; alcoholic beverages; Bovril
Effects
: neurological disorders; effects on disease immunity systems

 

FLAVOUR ENHANCERS

Brominated Vegetable Oil
Permitted in: citrus and spruce-flavoured drinks
Effects: accumulation in tissues; various anatomical abnormalities; banned in UK

Caffeine
Permitted in: Cola drinks
Effects: stimulation of nervous system; linked to birth defects in humans

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
Permitted in: Batcheloffs Cup-a-Soup; Planter’s Dry Roast Peanuts; Campbel's Soups and many other items
Effects: allergic reactions; brain damage; possible psychological effects like depression, possible birth defects

Tannici Acid
Permitted in: chewing gum
Effects: liver tumours and other damage

Disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate
Permitted in: some snack foods (no restrictions on their use) safe except for people suffering from gout-and other conditions requiring avoidance of purines.

Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
Permitted in: not used in baby roods; no other restrictions on use
Effects: comprised largely of monosodium glutamate; see above

Maltol
Permitted in: no restrictions on use
Effects: effects on blood composition

 

PRESERVATIVES

Suiphites (ff223) (E224) (ff227)
Permitted in: cider; wine; beer; jams and jellies; molasses: marmalade; fruit juices; tomato paste; dried fruits and vegetables.
Effects: possible interference with metabolism of thiarnin and other B vitamins, vitamin A and calcium; toxic interaction of suiphites and unsaturated fats; intestinal changes

Nitrites (E249) (E250)
Permitted in: processed meat and preserved poultry bacon; ham
Effects: rnethaernoglobinernia (a blood disorder), especially in infants: tumour production in conversion of nitrates to cancer-causing nitrosarnines: chromosome changes; birth defects; allergic muons

Nitrates (ff257) (E252)
Permitted in: preserved meat; some ripened cheeses
Effects: conversion to nitrites (see above)

Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) (E321)
Permitted in: vegetable oils and shortenings; dry breakfast cereals; dry beverage mixes; chewing gum; snack foods; instant potatoes; margarine.
Effects: reproductive failures; behavioural effects; blood cell changes; lung, stomach and ovarian tumours, especially in conjunction with nitrosamines; possible toxic effects from long-term storage in fatty tissues; linked to decreased risk of stomach cancer; allergic reactions pOssible interference with activity of ingested steroid hormones and oral contraceptives.

Butylated hydrozyanisole (BHA) (F320)
Permitted in: see BHT; fewer effects reported and less used in food than BHT
Effects: as above

Propyl gallate (f321)
Permitted in: vegetable ails arid shortenings; dry breakfast cereals; margarine; instant potatoes; snack foods; chewing gum.
Effects: reproductive failures; liver damage

Benzoic acid (ff210) and Sodium Benezoate (ff211)
Permitted in: jams and jellies;mincemeat marmalade; ketchup; marinated meat and fish; fruit juices; margarine; Sainsbury’s Cola Drink.
Effects: neurological disorders; allergic reactions in humans, asthma; reacts with the preservative sodium bisulphite.

Sodium propionate (ff287)
Permitted in: bread; cheese
Effects: migraine headaches

Sulphur dioxide (n/l*)
Permitted in: dried fruits and vegetables; beverages; Sun Maid Raisins
Effects: aestruction of the B vitamin thiamin.

TEXTURE AGENTS

Carboxymethyl cellulose (E466) and sodium carboxymethyl cellulose
Permitted in: salad dressings; flavoured milk; processed cheese; ice cream; cream; cottage cheese Effects: may cause intestinal obstruction; suspected to cause cancer

Carrageenan (ff407)
Permitted in: salad dressings; prepareci meat and fish; flavoured milk; processed cheese: ice cream; evaporated milk; cream; cottage cheese; sour cream; infant formula; alcoholic beverages.
Effects: gastrointestinal ulcers (but also used to treat ulcers in humans); liver damage; effects on immunity system; suspected to cause cancer.

Modified starch
(containing one or more of the 23 permitted starch modifying agents; eg. epichloroh ydrin)
Permitted in: puddings and pie fillings; qravies; sauces; baby foods
Effects: kidney damage; chromosome changes; suspected to cause cancer.

Polyoxyethylene (8) stearate (ff481483)
Permitted in: bakery foods
Effects: effects on gastrointestinal and urinary tracts (eg. bladder stones; tumours)

Saponiri (n/l*)
Permitted in: beverage mixes; soft
Effects: weight loss; effects on length of pregnancy; blood disorders

Sodium alginate (n/l*)
Permitted in: salad dressings; ice cream; flavoured milk; processed cheese
Effects: inhibition of essential metal absorption; allergic reactions

Tragacanth gum (E4 13)
Permitted in: salad dressings; processed cheese; cream cheese; cottage cheese; ice cream; sherbet Effects: allergic reactions

 

MISCELLANEOUS ADDITIVES

Benzoyl Peroxide
Permitted in: flour; whole wheat flour
Effects: destruction of vitamin E; allergic reactons; weak cancer causing agent

Alum (potassium aluminium sulphate; also a firming agent end flour b/each carrier)
Permitted in: pickles; relish; flour; baking powder; beer; ale.
Effects: kidney damage; intestinal bleeding.

Sodium aluminium sulphate
Permitted in: baking powder; (used for other purposes in pickles. relishes and flour)
Effects: kidney damage.

Calcium disodium edta (n/l*)
Permitted in: salad dressings; alcoholic beverages; Kraft Thousand Island Dressing
Effects: possible interference with absorption of essential trace metals such as iron, zinc and copper

Silicates
Permitted in: salt: garlic and onion salU dry mixes; icing sugar (as an anti-caking agent); sweets and candies (as a glazing/polishing and release agent); rice (as a coating); chewing gum (as a dusting agent)
Effects: talc (a form of magnesium silicate) may be contaminated with asDeStOS, whichis suspected of causing gastrointestinal cancer; some silicates may cause kidney damage; but most are considered biologically inactive.

Propylene glycol (an extraction solvent)
Permitted in: salt flavours; extracts; essences; colours.
Effects: anatomical deformities; reduced growth.

1, 3-Butylene glycol (an extraction solvent)
Permitted in: sweets and candies; bakery goods; fresh fruit and vegetables.
Effects: interference with the body's utilisation of the fat-soluble vitamins A,D,E and K.

Paraffin wax (a coating)
Permitted in: fresh fruits and vegetables; cheese; packaging .
Effects: gastrointestinal tract symptoms including links with stomach cancer.

Shellac (a glaze)
Permitted in: cake decorations; sweets and candies
Effects: gastrointestinal tract symptoms

Polyvinylpyrrolidone (a clarifying agent)
Permitted in: ale; beer cider wine.
Effects: tumour production; liver and kidney damage; spontaneous abortions.

Methylene choride (an extraction solvent)
Permitted in: coffee; spice extracts; hop extracts
Effects: chemically similar to known causes of cancer

Xylitol (a sweetener)
Permitted in: chewing gum.
Effects: suspected to cause cancer

*n/l = not fisted or regulated under EEC regulations


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